Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Reading research

The power of reading, the power of libraries and the "summer slide"
Letter published in Language Magazine, May, 2017
Stephen Krashen
Language Magazine readers might be interested in a case study that confirms Andrew Johnson's recommendations for dealing with the summer slide in reading  ("Tales of summer," April, 2017).  In a published journal paper, we (Shu-Yuan Lin, Fay Shin, and S. Krashen) described the case of "Sophia," a high school student whose reading test scores dropped during three consecutive academic years, but increased during the summer. In fact, Sophia's fall reading scores were higher than they were the previous spring. What did Sophia do during the summer that caused this improvement? She did not attend special classes, did not get instruction in reading strategies, did not work through vocabulary lists, and did not write book reports. All she did was read for pleasure. According to her mother, Sophia read an average of about 50 books per summer, largely from the local public library. Early favorites were the Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High series, followed by the Christy Miller series and other books by Francine Pascal, the author of the Sweet Valley series. (Sophia informed us that she was “addicted” to the Christy Miller books; it took her only a week to read the entire series “because I just couldn’t put them down.”)
Sophia’s mother told us that during the school year Sophia was so busy with school work that she had hardly any free time to read. Her mother, in fact, joked that it might be a good idea to keep her daughter at home during the school year in order to increase her scores on standardized tests of reading.
Lin, S-Y, Shin, F., & Krashen, S.  2007. Sophia’s choice: Summer reading. Knowledge Quest 35(4). Available for free download at www.sdkrashen.com, under "free voluntary reading."

Kids Count report

While the percentage of American children living in poverty fell in 2015, many continue to live in high-poverty areas and gains in children's well-being could be lost without continued investment, an annual report from the Annie. E. Casey Foundation finds. The report, which measured child well-being in four areas — economic well-being, education, health, and family and community — found minimal gains in indicators of academic achievement. Although rates of high school completion and fourth-grade reading proficiency improved from 2010 to 2015, the percentage of children not attending pre-K classes has remained largely unchanged since 2009, while the eighth-grade math proficiency rate has gotten slightly worse. The report found progress in a number of health indicators, including the uninsured rate for children, which fell from 8 percent in 2010 to 5 percent in 2015; the share of teens who abuse alcohol or drugs, which fell  from 7 percent to 5 percent; and child and teen deaths, which was down from 26 per 100,000 to 25 per 100,000. The report also notes that racial disparities in child well-being persist.
Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2017). Kids Count. Baltimore, MD: A. E. Casey Foundation.